Man: Wretched or
by Bill Volkman
Most of us have heard the oft-used,
pathetic excuse, "I'm only human." Not only is this statement
inaccurate, it also reflects the typical negative attitude that most
Christians have about their humanity. Few have come to see that our
humanity is really
wonderful. Whether we see our
or wonderful is
dependent on our focus. Do you have a Romans 7 focus of yourself, or a
Romans 8 focus?
Near the close of Romans 7 Paul
man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?" Then
Chapter 8 opens with the
statement, "There is
therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." How
can we account for Paul's move from the frustration and struggle of
chapter 7 to the freedom and "no condemnation" of chapter 8?
To say "Christ is the answer" is an
oversimplification, because millions who are born again still live
with death-producing guilt and fear. Most born again Christians
continue to be plagued with negative feelings about their humanity,
even though they have a wonderful sense of peace with God regarding
their destiny in the hereafter. So what can we say to ourselves and
others to bring a
sense of wholeness,
self-worth and creative freedom? What is it that will trigger good
feelings about our Personal humanity, even though temptations and
negative inclinations continue?
For me, the answer lies in Romans
8:2, "For the law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin
and death" Along with millions of others, my candidate for the Bible
verse that best gives the basis for the forgiveness of sin is John
3:16; but my favorite when it comes to the basis of day-by-day
liberated living is Romans 8:2.
As long as we see the two laws
(union life and human inclinations) as being in a continuing struggle
within us, as long as we assume that the existence of the two laws is
proof that we are "stuck" with two competing natures, we will continue
to live in the Romans 7 frustration. We will repeat endlessly: "On the
one hand, I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the
other, with my flesh the law of sin" (7:25). When will we see that the
temptations and negative desires and inclinations of our humanity are
not properly labeled a "nature"? We “were by nature children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:3), but now we
are by nature children of obedience. Yes, obedience is now our very
nature, for we have the Spirit of Christ, irrespective of some
negative human inclinations and tendencies. Do not confuse your true
nature with a human tendency. This is why Jesus said, "Do not judge
according to appearances [or human feelings], but judge righteous
judgment" (Jn. 7:24). Barnacles on the hull of a ship do not affect
the inner cargo.
The law of sin and death that
reigns in the lives of those who have not yet come to a point of
repentance is no longer a reigning law in our lives. Now when negative
humanity surfaces we see it for what it really is-God's way of
reminding us of who we really are, His precious assets. Since we are
"joined to another" (Rom. 7:4), we "have been released from the law"
(7:6). The law that once condemned us is now just a wonderful reminder
of who we are in Christ.
The two laws of Romans 8 have an
enlightening parallel in two physical laws: the law of gravity and the
law of aerodynamics. Have you ever sat in a Boeing 747 before take-off
and thought, "How will this monster get off the ground?" Conscious of
the law of gravity, we wonder how four jet engines will ever enable
thousands of tons to fly across the continent. But we know the law of
aerodynamics has set the plane free from the law of gravity.
The Wright Brothers knew they
could fly long before they proved it by their first successful flight
at Kittyhawk. While others continued to say that the law of gravity
made flight impossible, Orville and Wilbur had concluded that because
of another law, the law of aerodynamics, flight was possible. The law
of aerodynamics had not negated
the law of gravity, but it
had set them free from
the law of gravity. Even more amazing, they had come to understand
that the very law that had been the seeming curse - the law of gravity
- was actually an important factor in the operation of the over-riding
law of aerodynamics. Thrust alone, without the gravity factor, would
have made directional flight and landing impossible. The passenger
and military jets of today all are continuing proof that we can be
free of gravity even though the law is still very much operative.
Since the Wright Brothers were not
intimidated by the concept of the law of gravity, they could
creatively use the law
of gravity as part of the greater law of aerodynamics. When we finally
are no longer intimidated and condemned by our humanity, we will be
able to use our human desires and temptations, and even our "falls,"
as stepping stones to new creativity in everyday life situations.
Remember, God has spoken: "The law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of
sin and death." When Romans 7 feelings of "wretched man that I am"
overtake you, allow such feelings to put you back into the "no
condemnation" focus of Romans 8. Move from the common self-appraisal
of condemnation to one of no-condemnation. Realize that humanity is no
longer a liability; it is an asset. Now that we know who we are,
humanity is no longer wretched; our humanity is wonderful.